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Get ready for cell phones on planes

Ethan Lindsey May 17, 2006

TEXT OF STORY:

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Cell phones on planes? Maybe it’s just me, but it brings up images of being trapped in the middle seat between a crying baby and a teenager gossiping about the cheerleading squad. Well brace yourself, it may be reality soon, as Marketplace’s Ethan Lindsey reports.

ETHAN LINDSEY: Normally, terms like surface-to-air are reserved for more dangerous technologies, like missiles.

But the air-to-ground service the FCC has on sale this week is all about your cell phone.

Jet Blue and Verizon Wireless are among the firms bidding to put wireless on airplanes.

Debra Wayne covers telecom for the publisher Access Intelligence.

DEBRA WAYNE: Cell phone service using your own cell phone instead of air phones that youa€™ve seen on planes in the past. And many airlines have taken those out, because the price was way too prohibitive.

Wayne says this time, people are worried about something else.

DEBRA WAYNE: What people don’t want to see is a plane full of yakkers.

To avoid that, companies say they may restrict the service to just text messaging and Internet access.

I’m Ethan Lindsey for Marketplace.

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